WALVIS BAY – As part of its turnaround strategy and to capitalise on the logistic hub transformation Walvis Bay is undergoing, Air Namibia has revived its direct flights from Walvis Bay to Cape Town and Johannesburg in South Africa.
The flights come at a price tag of at least N$3 000 to N$3 430 (excluding airport taxes) and will be chartered with the classy Embraer ERJ 135 regional jet effective from March 29. The posh carrier’s features include an all economy class cabin with 37 seats, three abreast seating and also offers 66 percent aisle or window seating to name a few.
The flights from Johannesburg to Walvis Bay depart daily at 08h45 and arrive at 11h00 while Cape Town/Walvis Bay depart at 14h35 and arrive at 16h45.
“The traffic between Cape Town, Johannesburg and Walvis Bay has improved significantly since 2012 when Air Namibia suspended the direct operation between these destinations. Statistics indicate that at least 60 percent of the traffic on the Windhoek-Walvis Bay flights originates from Johannesburg and Cape Town connecting via Windhoek,” Air Namibia’s Managing Director Xavier Masule has said.
According to Masule, South Africa and Namibia successfully concluded a bilateral agreement earlier to allow such direct flights between the two countries’ carriers.
Referring to Air Namibia’s turnaround plan that was implemented in 2011, Masule says it is indeed a success story and complements the huge investment made by the government, such as the new fleet recently acquired as well as capitalising on new flight routes.
“Walvis Bay is the second largest centre of economic activities in Namibia, and a key centre in the national logistics hub strategy that is currently undergoing massive transformation in terms of tourism and infrastructure development. Therefore, offering direct flight to major destinations such as Cape Town and Johannesburg makes perfect sense,” he explained.
According to him, the Erongo Region also recorded positive growth in economic activities and diversification by moving from being a fishing town to other sectors such as mining, mining, retail, tourism and industrialisation, to name a few.
“As a national airline, we will be doing Namibia a ‘disfavour’ by not participating in the promotion of air transport services, linking Walvis Bay to other centres in the sub-region. Walvis Bay airport continues to be given a facelift, and we need to ensure those investments do not turn into white elephants,” Masule said.
He also pointed out that Air Namibia’s record for on-time departures has improved to over 95 percent, compared to world average 90 percent during the last 18 months. Air Namibia was also ranked 10th out of 410 airlines for on time arrivals in 2014.
The airline also signed a Strategic Business Alliance with the Municipality of Walvis Bay last week.
The Governor of the Erongo Region, Cleophas Mutjavikua also applauded Air Namibia for such a bold step saying that it was indeed a milestone for the whole region. He, however, warned on the need to nurture relations between Air Namibia and the region to ensure that the routes are permanently penned in the region.